20 years of The Punisher on Film


Punisher: War Zone is the latest film reincarnation based on the Marvel Comics Dark Knight. After his family was brutally murdered at the hands of organized crime, Frank Castle was reborn as a self-styled judge, jury, and executioner — showing no mercy to the criminal elements whatsoever Ray Stevenson steps into the role of the ultimate vigilante antihero, but the British actor wasn’t the first.

If society won’t punish the guilty, he will

The Punisher was first portrayed by the international cult action hero Dolph Lundgren in the late 80s filmed in Australia. But it wasn’t released domestically when New World Pictures filed bankruptcy. Despite having loads of action with a B-grade flavor, it failed to explore more into the backstory on how and why Frank Castle became The Punisher as well as having the infamous Punisher skull “logo”. Still, the film has developed a following over the years due to its release on VHS and runs on cable.

If you want peace, prepare for war. Frank Castle is dead; he died with his family. The law is inadequate. It is necessary to pursue natural justice. This isn’t revenge, because revenge is an emotional response, not a valid motive. This isn’t vengeance; this is punishment

Thomas Jane next entered the role in 2004, which was a better improvement due to the story, when it was the year that film antiheroes and the theme of revenge made a comeback — with a vengeance. Despite lukewarm box office returns, the film did well on DVD sales, which was enough to green light a planned sequel with Jane reprising the character. However, production for it was held due to script rewrites, budget concerns, and changes in directors. In a 2007 letter to Ain’t It Cool News, Jane wrote about his frustrations on this just shortly after he pulled out. “What I won’t do”, the actor stated, “Is spend months of my life sweating over a movie that I just don’t believe in. I’ve always loved the Marvel guys and wished them well. Meanwhile, I’ll continue to search for a film that one day might stand with all those films that the fans have asked me to watch.”

Somebody has to punish the corrupt

In Punisher: War Zone, Castle continues to wage his one-man war against organized crime while being hunted by a federal task force, as he takes on a disfigured mobster who now calls himself Jigsaw (Dominic West). Like DC Comics’ Bruce Wayne/Batman, The Punisher lost his family to crime, and is using his years of combat and law enforcement to take on the forces of evil. Like the Caped Crusader, he has no superpowers yet and he isn’t dedicating himself to fighting crime to avenge and honor the death of his family as well as protect the innocent. He does what he does because he hates the criminals and will not rest until every single one of them have been eliminated. For Frank Castle, this isn’t business or personal; it’s punishment.

Those who do evil unto others … will come to know me well. Frank Castle is dead. Call me … The Punisher

Garrett Godwin is an entertainment journalist, who writes for NewsBlaze about television and people in the entertainment industry, from his home state of Michigan. Contact Garrett by writing to NewsBlaze.